'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menoctoberish - a month of festivals

The next instalment of Rama's story;

what has been omitted is that Bharata and Shatrughna were absent in another kingdom whilst all of Keikeyi's intrigue was played out. He loves his mother but is right to be angry with her poor choice of action thus helping her understand her own shortcomings - we all need a "mirror" person!
Why does Rama not return on news of Dasharatha's demise? Had he refused to leave Ayodhya at first, his father may have continued living. However, we cannot live with 'ifs and buts' which lead to regret. If we have set a path, we must see it through to the best of our ability or our lives will be strewn with unfinished works and unrealised potential.

Menoctoberish - a month of festivals

Yesterday's lengthy treatise may have had you running for the hills... but I hope not, because from here things are pretty basic. A little series designed for kids will serve the purpose and I will add the grown-up bits. Be aware that this saga has a great many subtleties and sub-stories intended to demonstrate Sanatana Dharma, Rama and his brothers being the example by which we ought to live. It cannot be conveyed in full in these 'for fun' posts, so only the major dramatic highlights will be given. (In case any are wondering, no, the left wrist is not back in action though I can manage the occasional sentence as a physio exercise... but am also using cut/paste from earlier posts at AVbloggy and "tizzying" them up!)

Okay - the story of Rama begins with the king Dasharatha being desperate for a son from one of his three wives. A special fire ceremony (homa) is performed and the elixir which came from it was drunk by all three wives. Eventually, they all gave birth: Kausalya to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata and Sumitra to twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna. The princes all grew handsome, strong and intelligent, learning from, and respecting well, their elders and teachers. They were teenagers when the forest sage, Vishvamitra, appeared at the palace in Ayodhya and requested the assistance of the princes in the protection of his ashram against some demons. The old king revered the sage for his blessings in gaining these sons, so agreed to their going to the forest. Rama, in particular, proved to have great prowess against the evil invaders and Vishvamitra presented him with a powerful sword. He also furthered the princes' education and then introduced them to a neighbouring king...

Rudra is one of the names of Shiva. The sword is called Danush.
Kaikeyi was not naturally jealous, but we are presented with an example of listening to poor counsel and gossip.
Despite the austerity of forest living which would come, Rama was prepared to honour the boon as his beloved father had promised and he took that promise as his own. Nobility, integrity and selflessness in the face of envy and ambition.

Menoctoberish - a month of festivals

Leading up to 'spooky' day, I have been sharing some outlines of different aspects of feminine energy, in the form of the Navratri festival. On one comment, the question was asked as to the significance of the multiple arms of the images. I wish to go into the next part of my festival series, but it is a good and pertinent query, so let's take a look at the basics of what seems like craziness from the outside!

What is to be remembered is that the Ultimate Power of the Universe has no form. All mortal man can do is attempt to explain it through both science and philosophy. The philosophy pertaining to the spirit and the grand question "who am I?" is generally referred to as theology. Over centuries, Mankind has chosen to honour The Power as "God". For those less intellectually able to conceive of The Self as God, many representative depictions developed.

In Sanskrit tradition, it is said that there are 33,000,000 'gods'. These are not taken as physical beings (though they may be depicted thus), but as the powers over which they exert control. Think on this: for a country, state, or city to run properly, the government creates various departments and employs individuals within those departments — teachers, postal workers, police and military personnel, construction works, doctors, politicians, and so many more. Each of these departments employs hundreds or thousands of individuals carrying out their respective duties and each sector has an individual or multiple individuals that oversees the activities of that one unit. Each head of an area is endowed with certain privileges and powers which facilitates them in their tasks. It’s safe to say that the number of individuals working for a government goes into the millions. This is just to keep one country working. Multiply that by all the countries on the planet and the total would easily come out to tens of millions of people employed by the various governments of the world to run one planet.
Now, the source power of the universe is one thing, but having set things in motion, other lesser powers manifested and then still others as planets and stars formed. These were given names. For example, there is someone responsible for the sun and his name is Surya. The goddess Saraswati is the overseer of knowledge. The creator of the material universe is known as Brahma. The destruction of the universe is overseen by Shiva and Vishnu serves as the maintainer. There are individuals overseeing the oceans, the wind, and practically every facet of creations. When seen from this perspective, 33 million is not that big a number. (Vedanta does go into chemistry and physics - but you're not here for that, I suppose!)
Bringing it back to that question of the arms; the number of arms may vary according to the deity but all are expressions of the strengths/talents/boons which may be gained by a devotee's focus upon that particular manifestation of the Universal Power.
Okay, why did I tell you all this? It is because that source power is the singularity of spiritual vision which has always drawn Man to it, either as their concept of "God" or as a scientific curiosity. It is one and the same thing. How we choose to approach That is as many and varied as the contents of the cosmos which has arisen from it.
Moving along... one of the things that happen from time to time, according to various scriptures, is "God" manifests as a living breathing human. The next part of my Menoctoberfest is going to look at one of the key avatars of the Hindu pantheon, Shri Rama. The Ramayana is truly an epic and its themes are eternal; there are birth, studentship, marriage, courage, love, jealousy, exile, deception, kidnapping, tragedy, death, friendship, loyalty, mighty feats and battles, victories small and large... more on that starting tomorrow. Meanwhile, a little taster clip showing the high drama of Indian story-telling. Many translations of the Ramayana into the vernacular languages are themselves works of great literary artistry, including the Tamil version of Kampan, the Bengali version of Krittibas, and the Hindi version, Ramcharitmanas, of Tulsidas. Throughout North India, the events of the poem are enacted in an annual pageant, the Ramleela ('Rama Liila' meaning only, Rama's Play).